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Breaking Sugar Addiction By Getting to the Root Cause with Danielle Daem: 8

Danielle realized she had sugar addiction through an awakening she had several years ago when she went through a detox in the middle of the Columbian jungle. As she withdrew from sugar, she experienced a period of feeling very ill. She continued on without sugar and after a few weeks realized she no longer had cravings like she did before and sugar no longer had the same hold over her. Her path to breaking sugar addiction had begun.

Through this experience, she became passionate about nourishing her body properly as a means to avoid the chronic diseases so prevalent in her family. She spent the next two years figuring out her version of a sugar-free, whole foods diet. She now works as a nutrition coach to help others break their sugar addiction and find greater health.

Her personal motivation never included weight loss but rather finding health and preventing future disease through a better diet.

One of the great tools she discusses is asking yourself “why” at least three more times when you find your surface-level reason for wanting to lose weight or change your diet. This process allows people to get closer to the root of their food addiction. Breaking sugar addiction may require asking these why questions repeatedly over time.

You'll have to listen to the show to hear more about this process, but it's a simple and effective too to start identifying bad habits in relation to sugar and food so that you can create new, healthier habits.

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Watch the interview with Danielle Daem on YouTube


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Breaking Sugar Addiction By Getting to the Root Cause

Cheryl McColgan Hey everyone. So I am joined here today by Dani. And she is one of the producers of the keto… Well, the Quit Sugar Summit. We have so many great free education right now, it's pretty awesome, but maybe you can tell us Dani, how you got involved with the sugar-free life, and how you came to that, and then we'll go from there.

Danielle Daem Yeah. Amazing. Well, thank you so much for having me. This is fantastic. I'm so excited to be a part of this in the beginning of this podcast.

Cheryl McColgan Yes. It's very fun.

Danielle Daem I feel so honored. And I'm grateful that we connected… Yeah, with my work with the Quit Sugar Summit. My journey with sugar… I'll call it my, journey and relationship with sugar, it's been underlying my whole life, for all of us. It starts at childhood, it wasn't for me until about five years ago when I was on trip in South America with my husband that I really realized the addiction that I had to sugar, that it was really… Had it's talons in me, and this control over me. And I really started just having some real eye-opening moments, and I feel so blessed and grateful that I didn't go through any crazy health traumas or issues like most people do in order to wake up and realize, Hey, it's time to change the way I'm eating. For me, it was more of a combination of just this trip and actually went through an accidental sugar detox in the middle of the Colombian jungle of all places.


Cheryl McColgan Wow! 

Breaking Sugar Addiction

Detox and Withdrawal from Sugar

Danielle Daem Great place to do it but I don't recommend anybody doing it there…actually, it was a wonderful place to do it. We were just living off the land and not eating any of the junk that we'd eating the whole rest of our trip, and I'd been eating my life. And my body… I went through withdrawals. It was sugar addiction but at the time I had no idea what was going on. I thought I was sick. Why am I tired all the time? Why does my head hurts? Why am I hungry at weird hours? My body was doing all sorts of weird things, and it's a couple of weeks later that we came back home to… I'm in Canada. And I really noticed that my cravings were gone or that sugar didn't have this pull on me anymore like it used to. And that was really eye-opening for me, and really what started my whole investigative journey and really my deep passion and learning how to nourish myself and what that meant, because I always thought I was “healthy”. I always thought I was doing the right thing and I'd eat the quinoa salad, covered in sugary salad dressing, with cranberries in it, and all the fruit and sugar stuff too, right? So at that point, I also took a hard look at my family and my genetic future, if that was gonna be something that… If I kept eating the way that I was eating and kept being addicted to sugar like my whole family was, especially on my mom's side. I was on a quick path to being riddled with all the chronic diseases that are in my genetic history… That are in family's genetics.

Breaking the Family Sugar Addiction Cycle

Danielle Daem And I could see my mom and everyone in the family is sick with one of these chronic diseases and passing away from chronic diseases. And I just realized, that's not the future I want. I wanna be 90 years old and going on multi-day hikes. I am a big, avid hiker and backpacker, and I wanna be traveling the world, and all these things really started clicking for me, and I started realizing that sugar had this pull on me and was really dictating my future and the life that I was gonna have when I was older. So I started just embarking on my own investigative journey, I started studying holistic nutrition and really just for my own knowledge, and then tapping in and realizing I wanted to help other people with this, so I started working as a nutritional coach. This is five years ago now, while still in the trenches in my journey with sugar and through, I kinda say it's about a two year timeframe, I finally got to a place where I felt like I was in the driver seat again with food and with sugar because I had healed that relationship with it. So this is important to say for everyone listening to… I am not 100% sugar-free. I choose freedom and I enjoy having a glass of wine, I enjoy… Choosing to have a brownie if I want one. And really it's on my terms, and not everyday and not in everything that I am eating, right? 

Cheryl McColgan Right.

Danielle Daem Kind of that moderation and that freedom that I've found for myself with… On my journey and with the inner work and the systems that I've seen work for my clients over the last couple of years. So that's the cliff notes notes version. Obviously, there is a lot more to that story. But I hope it give everybody a little idea of my background.

Can You Be Addicted to Sugar and Carbs?

Cheryl McColgan Yeah, no, I think it's great to know where you are coming from. My next question would be, when you came back from Columbia and you'd had this revelation and you'd gone through this big detox, was it… Because I think there's a few things in what you said right there, and then I had this other interview with it… Most of the people I'm talking to have been on this journey for a while. It's not people that have only been doing it just to lose 10 pounds or maybe for six months even… Everybody that I'm talking to… Myself, I'm going on five years now on low carb and keto, four years fully keto, and then the other person I talked to was like 15 years, and here you are five years in as well. So I think there's some differences for people just starting versus where we are now. And I think the beauty of where we are now is, we have healed our body to a great degree, we've healed our relationship with food to a great degree, and so we do have a little bit more freedom to enjoy some things that people that are battling disease, or just starting, or have severe obesity, may not have that same freedom, yet.

Breaking Sugar Addiction: Finding Food Freedom Through Sugar ReductionBreaking Sugar Addiction by Getting to the Root Cause

Cheryl McColgan That's my hope for everybody, is to kind of get to a place of food freedom, whether that means occasionally having some of those things that you mentioned, or food freedom for them means that they are just a total abstainer because they know themselves, and they know if they eat that one cookie, or one brownie as you mentioned, they're gonna go over the edge. So I think there's a lot of knowing yourself in all that. There is a question in here. [laughter] So I guess my question is that, when you got back from Columbia, what was the process of breaking sugar addiction like? When you had that realization and you knew that you were gonna commit to your health in this way, and you really looked at your family and saw these problems, how did that first year, go for you? Were you more strict? Did you struggle? Did you go on and off… Just maybe some more color around how that went for you? 

Danielle Daem Yeah, amazing, thank you for asking me to pull that out and it's funny, 'cause I'm trying to think back. I don't remember all the details, but I do wanna shadow exactly what you just said, and my belief wholeheartedly is that we all need to figure out what works for us. And really being willing to go down that journey and really tuning into what works for me isn't gonna work for someone else and finding that uniqueness. So, when I think back to that first year, I'm still grateful my husband was on board as well, he noticed wow, like, I don't wanna be addicted to sugar anymore. And what's this gonna do if we take it out of our diet? So we actually at the same time, came home and decided to go vegetarian at that point, so we just went whole food, vegetarian, no to minimal sugar. And it was a roller coaster. This is why I feel like it was a good two years of rollercoastering working on breaking sugar addiction before I felt like I had control, like I was in the driver's seat again, it's because I was all alone. All these amazing resources existed back then. But for some reason, I didn't think to hit Google, right? [laughter]

Danielle Daem I didn't even think about like, is other people out there struggling with it? We were the only ones in our family which I think is one of the biggest difficulties when it comes to sugar addiction is most people don't get it, and they think you're the crazy one in the family. So I'm okay being that crazy one. So that didn't hold me back. But it was that first year was tough. I remember feeling really lost, not only going through withdrawals, but feeling really lost that my clutch wasn't there anymore.

Doing the Work to Break Sugar Addiction

Danielle Daem And oftentimes, going back to the clutch, like I said, I was on and off many many times before I finally figured out like I did the deeper work for myself, in terms of getting back in the driver's seat of sugar, so that first year was a mess. We were, we go a week without sugar, then we have a week with sugar, and then a week without. And I remember, one of the most difficult parts to me was learning how to cook a whole new way. And I think this really resonates with a lot of people, whether you're going keto, or you're just wanting to get off sugar or whatever, it's when we're so used to our plate our meals being a certain way, we've cooked a certain thing our whole lives, or our mom's always cooked this, it can be a bit of a bumpy journey to learn how to create new meals, or to create flavor with real food if you've only ever eaten, fast food your whole life. So, I had to relearn like now that there's not meat on my plate. This was a big one and sugar and all the bread that I was eating before, right and the white pasta. What else is gonna be on my plate? What other flavors exist? And in the beginning, it was like, well, there's gonna be nothing for me to eat. But then I just started looking at different places and looking obviously for recipes online, and a whole new world of food opened up to me, a whole new spices, new flavors, new ways of combining and creating meals and I actually enjoyed that process. Finding new food flavors is an important part of breaking sugar addiction.

Danielle Daem Once I got over the hump of being overwhelmed with what I'm I gonna eat now? There's no bread and meat on my plate. I did both at the same time. So yeah, it was an interesting journey for sure. But, for anyone who's maybe in that spot, just know that it's not about being perfect. I think just the more we stay open and loving and kind with ourselves and understanding that we're, it is a journey, it's not something you need to be perfect at. I definitely wasn't and I still am not, I'm still learning things about myself and food and certain things come up. And I'm like, That's interesting. I didn't know that was a trigger. Fantastic, good to know. That's life. We're not, it's not about being perfect. And every time I “failed” or slipped up, or had a week with sugar or binged on sugar. I chose to learn from that and understand, oh, it's because this happened, or oh, okay, sadness is still a trigger for me, like what are some things that I still need to deepen into and can continue working on. So just coming at it from that lens, I think was really supportive for me. And obviously, it was… I'm very lucky. My husband was on board too, which is was helpful. I know, a lot of people don't have that. But yeah, so the first year was an interesting one, for sure. Thanks for asking me to go back there, I don't remember it all.

Identifying Your Why As a Means to Break Sugar Addiction

Cheryl McColgan And did you find? So for me personally, I find that having my why for doing this? I had some previous health problems myself, and then there's a lot of cancer in my family and some of the same things that you mentioned. For me personally, having my why, a strong why and related to health, not my weight, has really been something that allows me to make better decisions every day about what I'm putting in my mouth, or what I decided to consume, whether it is food or whether it's content, or whether it's other things that affect your mindset and the way that you think. I would imagine that applies to breaking sugar addiction as well. So for you and when you're working with people, do you find that finding a strong why really helps drive your behavior after that? 

Danielle Daem Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I'm glad you mentioned that. I mean, that was a big piece for me in really tuning in to not only wanting to feel better, 'cause weight loss wasn't my goal at that point. I've always been relatively tall and within 10 or so pounds relatively skinny, and this sort of thing. So, that wasn't my motivator for breaking sugar addiction. But really understanding and tapping into the deeper version of my why and this is a big thing that I do with clients is oftentimes we'll connect with a why or motivation on like a surface level. But until we, really tap into the deep, like emotional why, it can become hard to stick with something right? So really getting clear on that is absolutely important and that was a big part of my journey for sure. And continuing to dive deep into what kind of life do I wanna live, and why, like, what is sugar gonna rob me of if I don't change, and for me it was gonna be cancer, diabetes and obesity and heart disease and Alzheimer's and all of it. And I wasn't gonna be able to live the life that I wanted to. So that was no doubt a motivator for me and very helpful on days when it gets tough, right for anyone who's listening and just getting started.

Making Daily Health Decisions Easier

Cheryl McColgan Yeah, I agree. And I think when you work with people on a day to day basis like you do, identifying these health goals and your why it just again, the day that you're having a bad day and you would normally reach for candy or sugar, you just kinda have to get new coping skills, which… My background is in psychology, so it's kind of like all this stuff is really a lot of psychological tools that we're talking about here, so it's not just figuring out what you're gonna eat, but to your point, you said you also have to deal with those deeper issues and I liked the way that you connected it, say we have a surface level idea about what it is, but really getting to the root of that and maybe could, I'm assuming probably when you said that you might have had someone or a certain scenario in mind, can you make it a little bit more concrete for people, because I think sometimes when people are just getting into it too, it's hard for them to identify anything besides the surface because they're just thinking, oh, I just wanna lose 10 pounds to go to this graduation party or something like that. So I think maybe expand on that a little bit and give us a concrete or both sides of it.

Danielle Daem Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and that's a really good example that you just gave there too, so that's kind of the example coming up for me, a lot of us will, and there's nothing wrong with this in really wanting to either get off sugar or just or like your goal being… Losing weight, right? I want to do this, I wanna eat better because I wanna lose weight. And then the process that I got, and it's really simple, it's just ask yourself “why” at least three other times while you're working on breaking sugar addiction… So this is how we dive into that, so you wanna lose weight, Cheryl? That is great. Why do you wanna lose weight? What is behind the actual wanting to lose weight? Well, I wanna lose weight so that I feel sexy in my body again. Great, why you wanna feel sexy in your body again? Well, maybe it's because I wanna be confident in my job and I wanna be able to go after promotions that I'm kind of holding back from, or Or I want to be more intimate with my husband and feel like I have the confidence for that, and then ask me again, like, why is that important to you right? 

Digging Deeper to Find the Root Cause of Sugar Addiction

Danielle Daem And you actually get to when you keep asking with that curiosity, you can then dive deeper and deeper… For a lot of us, it comes deeply down to the type of life we wanna live and that we wanna be here for our grandchildren and that we want to, like for me I wanna be able to live my best life into my 90s and go hiking and traveling and really tapping into more depth into what your soul actually craves and what you actually want, and that's your real “why” and not the surface level, I mean the wanting to lose weight is just at the surface and all of this like deep desires and wanting and need of you being here on the planet, so does that answer a little bit? Does that help? 

Cheryl McColgan Yes, and I just… Can I just say, I just love all of the things that you just said [laughter], because It's so… I definitely… obviously, you tend to be even online attracted to people that have sort of a certain mindset or a certain way of being right? And I just love how you just drilled that down into ask three more times and it's like, look at the stuff that can come up from that. So I think that tip alone, if people don't take anything else away from us chatting, today, I think that, that is just such a huge and really helpful idea that you just threw out there.

Journaling to Discover the Root Cause of Sugar Addiction

Danielle Daem Awesome. Yeah, and I urge everybody listening or watching to do that, to sit down with your journal, clear yourself some mental and physical space and just connect deeper, and you might not get past two levels of why right away, but just ask it anyway and just see what comes up or brainstorm or just… Just posing that question to your subconscious eventually you will get an answer, and just staying open to that, don't get frustrated if it does not come to you right away [chuckle] Just be open to… It will come up for you. If you keep asking that question.

Cheryl McColgan Yeah, I love that. And so then how, so you've been going at it for five years, so we kinda talked about your first year, really transitioning, struggling going on and off, but then really finding your why and then kind of things even out after a while, you get used to a new way of eating and what are you putting on your plate, like you said, so then how did you go from that into having this desire to share it with others and help others on the same journey, how did these next few years go of getting involved with the Quit Sugar and helping clients and all that stuff? 

Danielle Daem Yeah, it's been such an interesting journey for me every year, it just unfolds in new ways, and I think they get peace in seeing me just being able to sit back and allow for shifts to come. So when I started five years ago, I got my certification as a Holistic Nutritional Coach, and I did start coaching with the clients and started working with people, about more general around habit building and around, hey, let's look at your food and kind of that surface level stuff and the more clients that I worked with, and then also combined with at the same time, going through my own journey specifically around sugar, I really realized that that was my passion. And that was my niche. My thing that I could speak about after I kinda came out of the fog [chuckle] of my addiction to sugar, it's actually a funny story… I was sitting on a patio having a glass of wine with a girlfriend and we were chatting about business and brainstorming, and she said, “Why are you not helping people with sugar?” And I just had this light bulb moment and I was like, That's it.

Breaking Sugar Addiction With the Help of a Coach

Danielle Daem I have a story, this is… I found a way out for myself, I wanna support other people with this, because those two years that I struggled were very, very difficult, especially mentally on myself, the guilt and the deep failure that came up, and the beliefs I started telling myself, there's something wrong with me, why can't I get a handle on this? You know the mental toll that it took about me, aside from the physical toll being addicted to sugar, and it was just something I really felt, I felt this big pull. This is something I need to be talking more about, and sharing my story and supporting others through this. Where it doesn't take two years and it's not this lonely, frustrating, confusing journey, and that was kind of what sparked things for me, so I'd say it's been about maybe the last 2 1/2 years then, that I've really been focusing in on the sugar piece. And the more clients that I work with the more I get to deeper levels of what's really going on. And I would say one of the gifts for me personally, in the pandemic last year was getting some really crystal clear on the…

Danielle Daem The very deep belief systems and emotions and trauma and very foundational pieces that are actually at the root of our behaviors and patterns around food. I definitely operate now, and I've seen this in myself and in all my clients, this belief that our patterns and our relationship with sugar or food have nothing to do with food. And everything to do with our relationship with ourselves. So in my own journey of doing my inner work, and all the personal growth things that I've done, I've realized that as I've stepped more into my power and as I've stepped more into knowing who I am and loving who I am, all those bad habits fall away. So there is this really deep-rooted piece behind it, and I'm just so passionate in educating people around that and helping people, women work through those pieces and start connecting those dots like, “Oh, all of this is stemming from the belief that I am not worthy.” That's one of the biggest things. Every one of my clients, they all as human beings have that belief.

Cheryl McColgan It is the thing. It is the only thing. Really.

Breaking Sugar Addiction: Limiting Beliefs Get in the Way of Addiction Recovery

Danielle Daem It the only thing, right? It is one of the core limiting beliefs, but until we begin to really shift that, we're never gonna show up and live the life that we want. And that's fine. If you don't wanna make the most of life, I'm not here to judge anyone. That's totally fine. But for those of us I think that are striving and constantly yo-yo dieting and constantly beating ourselves up, I think getting to that root piece, which is not easy, and this is why people avoid it. And this is why I'm here standing, I'm saying you can't just get off of sugar. You do have to do the deeper work in understanding where your addictions and your patterns are coming from before you're ever gonna find a lasting way out. My goal I would love every single human being to get off of the yo-yo dieting bandwagon and really learn to tune in to their own inner wisdom instead of tuning out to everyone outside of themselves to make decisions. So really taking our power back and owning what works for us and what doesn't, and loving that and honoring our bodies in that way.

Blood Sugar Regulation Balances Hunger Signals

Cheryl McColgan Did you experience… Because you just talked about of getting control again and tuning in, one of the things that I really find about getting the sugar out of my diet is that you… You have much more even blood sugar, right? And so with even blood sugar comes an ability to… You're not getting these hunger hormones spiking your interest in food all the time, so because things are more even, I think there's more of an ability to actually tune in and get in touch with what does real hunger feel like, or noticing more because you're not having those hormonal signals, you can notice, well, no I'm trying to eat right now just because I'm bored, or I'm trying to eat right now because something didn't go my way, or whatever it is. I think without those hormonal aspects of sugar going throughout your day, your brain is actually more clear in a place where you can tune into some of those other things, but it takes a while obviously, to get to that point and to get to a point where you're consistent enough that you can listen to those inner signals.

Danielle Daem Totally. Totally. And I'm really glad that you pulled that out because that is such an important piece of the journey. And every time I work with a client there's always a period to be sugar-free. You gotta get it all out. You have to go whether it's a couple of months, a year or whatever, or life, getting that out of your body is such an important part of the process and like you said, just getting your brain back and balancing your sugar levels you can get your energy back. You're not relying on caffeine and sugar hits throughout the day, you're like, Oh, I actually… My body can produce its own energy and that's fascinating. And really getting level and taking the physical cravings, it does open up a whole world of being able to be aware of what else is going on. Because for a lot of us it's yes it's the physical addiction. It is definitely a cellular [0:23:21.2] ____ physical toxicity to overdosing on sugar, but there's more to it as we're talking about. For a lot of us it's the emotional component or past trauma that we've never healed or something else going on, right? 

Danielle Daem And when we remove our clutch which is sugar, we have to face that stuff and we have to look at it. And a lot of people maybe aren't prepared for that piece, so hopefully listening… For anyone listening or watching right now, just being aware that that is an invitation for you to deepen into what's really going on behind the scenes. And when you take that away it really shines the light on all the things like, “Oh my clutch for boredom isn't here anymore.” Stress, okay, what's actually going on? And we can start to tune in in that time, and it's a very important piece of the process for sure, to have that mental clarity and facing your life and to start diving in and to start paying attention to what's going on underneath.

Cheryl McColgan So then how out of all of that… so how did you start working with people first, and then you kinda have the idea for the Quit Sugar Summit or how did that whole thing come to be? 

Quit Sugar Summit

Danielle Daem Yes, yes. You did ask about that. So, great question. Actually the Quit Sugar Summit has been such a gift in my life. Mike Collins is the founder of the Quit Sugar Summit. And he started it about six years ago, I think this was the sixth annual summit. And I connected with Mike out of the blue about two years ago, I just… He was speaking up about sugar, and I loved what he was sharing, and what he was doing, I sent him a message said, Hey, let's connect like I wanna support you, and we got on a chat and we just connected right off the bat. So we supported each other. We've done some Facebook lives and things a couple of years ago, and he invited me on to the team for the Quit Sugar Summit last year, I guess. Last year. And they needed someone to come in and manage all the speakers and the affiliates and do all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Danielle Daem So it was a role that I was excited to get involved in. I really looked up to Mike and everything. He's been in the sugar-free space for over 30 years, and he's definitely helped millions of people. So it's been an honor to be connected with him and to be able to support his incredible summit. And we just wrapped up our most successful one yet, so it was a huge… The impact that we had for that summit, it was just… It's heartwarming. It just gives me chills reading the comments and the emails that we get from people who kind of follow along with the week-long event and yeah, it's been such a blessing, just being able to support at a higher level and to meet a lot of these other experts as well in the space. We get to interview a lot of incredible people, and Cheryl McColgan, we're having you on next time for sure. For sure. It's such a gift.

Cheryl McColgan Well, and so for people that are listening to this later, do you typically have two a year? ‘Cause I think when I spoke to Mike, he said you have another one coming up in the fall maybe. So if you just tell people a little bit more about that so that if they… I mean, the links will be in the show notes for everybody, but just in case you hear this later, so they know where to find that and they know when it typically is. Learning with the Quit Sugar Summit is a great tool in breaking sugar addiction.

Danielle Daem Absolutely, yeah. So it's kind of varied every year with the timing of it. This year we went in January, and when you throw the link down below, just everybody who's listening or watching, you can always jump in and the event is over for free, but you can always jump in and buy one of the speaker packages and just get access to all the interviews in between the summits. So yeah, in the past it's been just a once a year event. We are toying with the idea of maybe doing it again this year, but to be honest, we're just wrapping things down. We haven't even had mental space to think about it. So no guarantees that there will be another one this year, but it's definitely at least a once-a-year event. And we're hoping to do it again next January. And January's just such a powerful time for a lot of people. Kind of that motivation is already there and we just swoop in with all this really powerful life-changing information and experts. We had almost 60 experts this year coming in and speaking and sharing their story, and it was just… It was crazy. I'm still, I'm still letting it soak in. It's only been a couple of weeks since we wrapped up.

Cheryl McColgan Yeah, I used to… I don't know. You probably didn't know this about me, but I used to actually produce events all over the world in the tech space, and so I can really appreciate what you've been through the last several weeks.

Danielle Daem Wow. Okay.

Cheryl McColgan I always felt like I could just start breathing again about two weeks after it was all over.

Danielle Daem Yeah. Yeah. Everybody was setting their New Year's resolutions on January 1st, and I feel like January is just started for me now in February, 'cause January was just a blur. A great blur. Like a really fun, amazing blur. But, yeah, finally get my brain back.

Breaking Sugar Addiction: How Eating Keto Changes Over Time

Cheryl McColgan Nice. Well, since this is also… obviously, people are coming to this podcast 'cause they see keto in the title, but I think it's probably becoming pretty apparent based on when I talk to people and what we talk about, that I'm a big proponent of people finding what works for them. I'm a big proponent of whole foods, of clean eating. I think that can look a lot of different ways, and I think it doesn't have to look the same for every person for an extended amount of time. I think your body goes through cycles. We go through seasonal cycles. So again, there is a question here. But I'm just providing the background. So the question is… Because when we first chatted you said to me… You said, “Well, I'm not purely a keto person. Is that cool?” And I'm like, “Well, of course, that's cool,” just because of all the reasons I just said to you. But can you maybe share with people how you look at your diet now, and having done this for a long time in relation to keto and kind of what people perceive as keto nowadays, just in the general media versus being someone that's in practice of actively not eating sugar, what that actually…what keto actually means to you, I guess, in a way.

Danielle Daem Yeah, yeah. No, this is such a great question because… And to be honest, I waffled with it for years, right? Like this whole thing.

Keto Has a Marketing Problem

Cheryl McColgan I might argue based on what you told me, and this is just the example. For example, I might say that you are Keto personally, just based on what I know of you and your committed to no sugar, and you might have an occasional treat, that you eat really healthy. To me, that's keto. And I think that's part of the challenge of this space is people hear that word now and they have a very specific perception of what it is, but to me it's just eating as we were meant to eat. Eating very ancestrally, eating very clean. So just any of your thoughts around all of that? 

Danielle Daem Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. No, I agree with that. And I love that you're sharing that message, 'cause one of the things that I really waffled with… And I think, first of all, when we have the conversation around sugar, the white processed carbs, the added sugars, all the overdosing that we're doing. We can remove that and drastically reduce that on any diet. You can do that healthy as a vegan, as a keto, as a carnivore, as a anything. And again, it comes back to something that we talked about in the beginning. I'm a huge proponent in playing with your body and playing with what works for you, especially when breaking sugar addiction. Genetically, your lifestyle, all of it. One of the reasons that… And it is so true. There's so many different definitions of keto, right? They're plenty, anyway… They're plenty. I just personally know that I thrive on not having boundaries on what I can and can't eat. That for me got me into a really toxic place of wanting the things that I couldn't have and kind of feeling like I was stuck in a box and I'm the type of person you can't put in a box. You can't do it.

Therapeutic Keto for Sugar Addiction

Danielle Daem So I know for a lot of people that those guidelines really work, and I know that for a lot of people going on strict keto, cutting out mostly all carbs can be really supportive for hormonal balance as well as breaking sugar addiction and I actually have some friends who've had success getting pregnant doing keto diet for therapy, therapeutic purposes. So I think it's fantastic. I think it's important to really just tune in and find something that is sustainable. I've seen a lot of people in any way of eating do it to such an extent that it doesn't become sustainable, and it becomes this on-and-off again, on-and-off again way of eating. So I think in this conversation for anyone listening it's just really getting clear on what do you want your long-term lifestyle and relationship with food to be.

Danielle Daem If having those guidelines and really sticking to them is supportive for your health goals, and your lifestyle, and it feels good, then do it, do it. Do it all for you. But just keep in mind that it's okay to be flexible. And it's okay to have some flexibility… I wanna be able to pasta when I want. I wanna be able to have wine, but not having it control me, and not have it do serious long-term damage to me, and maybe that'll change for me. I'm also staying open to that. I'm always open to new things and my body's shifting and as I age, and my hormones shift, maybe I will need to re-address and look at maybe being more strict or more structured with my diet as well. So I mean, there's no one black or white answer, and I hope everybody… And I love your message Cheryl, because I share that; it really is about whole real foods. So whether you wanna eat meat or not eat meat, if you're just eating whole real foods, you're good, and listening to your body.

Eat Real Food for Greater Health

Cheryl McColgan You would be 90% better off if you just do that, for real.

Danielle Daem 99% better off, right? If you only ate things that you could find on a farm, your life would change, so those are kind of my two mantras that I really live by. Eat whole real foods, and listen to your body. So if you're eating vegan and your body doesn't feel good, okay, maybe switch it up. And just paying attention, which I think is the biggest gift any of us can do because we have been trained and taught to not listen to our body, we get a headache, we just take some medication for it, we don't think anything of it, we think, Well, I'm just PMSing or I'm just having a bad day. Right, so really re-learning to tune in and honor, Hey, my body is not feeling good without meat, for instance. And that's actually what happened to me and my husband. We were vegetarian for about a year, I would say, and then we just started just feeling like something was off, or something was missing, so we started introducing a little bit of meat. Now we have meat maybe a couple of times a week. So we found that balance and it might shift again in the future, but it's just constantly paying attention and honoring what works for you. Paying attention to what makes you feel good is also a useful tool in breaking sugar addiction.

Listening to Your Body to Help Beat Sugar Addiction

Cheryl McColgan Yeah, that's a great tip because people do become very adept at not tuning in, and that is one of the gifts of being a yoga person for all these years, is we are very focused on listening to your body, and my body took years of abuse from running from… I was a vegetarian for seven years, there was a million things, but finally, the gift of age and yoga allowed me to get a lot better at really listening to my body and doing what makes me feel optimal because I think there's also this other… I think when people are first coming to this idea of getting rid of sugar, it's a survival thing 'cause they're so addicted and it's such a change that they just need to get through that, but then if you stick with it and you identify your why, you can get to this other level where it's like you're no longer just surviving, you wanna thrive and you wanna feel optimal, and you wanna eat optimally for brain function and for energy and all of those things, and so that almost becomes a next level thing, but it's really getting through that first phase, which I think is a little different for everybody.

Cheryl McColgan You described on and off for a year, some people might just be able to click in right away, for some people it might even take longer than that, but I think that at the end of the day, your point is well taken to start implementing these practices and as you are implementing them, be really mindful and starting to really try to tune in and see, that's a great way to start breaking sugar addiction… And I think your example is a great one and a well taken one, because people do tend to go to these extremes, whether it's keto or vegan or vegetarian or whatever it is, and they get it in their head that they're gonna do that and they're gonna do that thing, and then they get attached to that idea so much that they can't let it go even when it's no longer serving them, like sugar addiction or a specific way or eating. So I'm really thankful that you said that you noticed that you guys were just feeling off, and that was probably one of the first things that came to mind 'cause you haven't been so long into it, because I think what happens with some of these vegans that are now years into it, they're so hooked into that community and they're so hooked into that belief system, for lack of a better word, that they can't seem to let it go even when it's actually harming their own body.

Know When it Might Be Time to Tweak Your Diet or Make Larger Changes

Danielle Daem Yeah, and even if they're… Any symptoms are coming up is easy to say “Oh that's something else or that's just… That's just 'cause it's a full moon. [laughter] And I feel like I can say this 'cause I don't think my dad will listen to this at all, but that's my dad, you just described my dad. He's very much, “we're vegan, and this is very important.” And that's great. I'm not sure if it is working for him or not, I haven't been able to tell, but we can become so dogmatic in our way of eating. It's like a whole new religion, and I think it's really, really important to honor that our bodies are always changing, and science is always changing, and the world is always changing and our stress levels are always changing, and it's okay to be flexible, and adapt, and flow, and be open to changing. We get so stuck at, “No, I'm never gonna change”, but we need to adapt… Good luck at never changing in life. The consistent in life, is that there will be change. So as we've all experienced last year, so being open to that and tuning in I think is so important.

Cheryl McColgan So any final thoughts before we wrap up? Anything that we didn't cover, any of your best tips for people for getting off of sugar or just any last thought that's occurred to you that we didn't cover…

Danielle Daem Oh, all of it… We didn't cover a lot, but there's a lot to this conversation, and I hope everybody listening is at least getting little tidbits to get started. What's coming up for me is just a reminder to, that there is something below our patterns and habits and addictions and cravings for sugar, and for all of us, that's something different, and being willing to actually look inward can be really scary. Breaking the sugar addition is built on finding some of the underlying causes of our habits. Understanding where do these emotions come from, or what trauma is maybe there or what are my belief systems are no longer serving me. And really starting to look at that stuff. Because if… And I'm willing to bet, anyone listening to this wants to create a lasting shift and lasting health, and vitality, and we have to look inward in order to make it actually stick, and this is the one thing that the whole Yo-Yo Dieting Industry completely ignores. It's all about eat this and don't eat that, but it is not about why you're eating it in the first place. So really, I just invite everybody as a final reminder to start inquiring with curiosity, not judgment, very important, but just start inquiring, Why do I have these challenges or these addictions or these patterns around food or you know why do I snack every night? 

Danielle Daem And just starting to be curious and build awareness around what's really going on. I mean, awareness is ground level zero. Understanding that I eat every time I'm bored. Awesome, really great information. So start playing investigator in your own life, and just bring that… Like I always say to my clients, a child-like curiosity in helping you understand what's really going on for you without judgment, without shame, because there's nothing wrong with you. And that's an important thing to remind everyone listening as well. That you're not broken. There's nothing wrong with any of us, we're all perfect as we are, and uncovering the root of that has been a life-changing journey for me, owning that, those truths that, Hey, I'm not broken and I'm perfect and I'm loved, and all of that, that's where the real shift happens. So I invite everyone to just start going on that inquisitive journey again and build more curiosity into the next binge you have or the next time cravings are driving you mad, just being curious and taking note of what's going on. Breaking sugar addiction is an ongoing process.

Cheryl McColgan Yeah, I love that. All of that too I just… It's almost like you're in my head. [laughter]

Danielle Daem I knew we connected! 

Cheryl McColgan So, final thing, Danielle Daem, if people wanna connect with you online, we already talked about the Quit Sugar Summit, but where can they find you personally, and what are your social channels that you're on most, or where can they find your content? 

Danielle Daem Yeah, absolutely, so definitely come over to my website Danielle, I've got an incredible actual three-part emotional eating… a video series there as well that you can download for free, so definitely come and grab that. And then you can find me on social media. I'm on Facebook at Danielle Daem Coaching and on Instagram @DanielleDaem. I also have a YouTube channel, which is just my name as well, Danielle Daem, so you can find me on YouTube as well, those are probably the best places to connect, and, I would love to hear from anyone who resonated with our conversation today, don't hesitate to reach out.

Cheryl McColgan Awesome, well, thank you so much, and again, I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I really loved our conversation.

Danielle Daem Me too! This was so much fun. Thanks, Cheryl McColgan.

Cheryl McColgan Thank you.